News / Science & Technology

    UN: Global Warming Harms Corals Vital to Small Islands

    FILE: A U.N. report says global warming threatens coral, such as this Gorgonian sea fan. Coral reefs buffer coastlines.
    FILE: A U.N. report says global warming threatens coral, such as this Gorgonian sea fan. Coral reefs buffer coastlines.
    Reuters
    Global warming is causing trillions of dollars of damage to coral reefs, aggravating the risks to tropical small island states as sea levels rise, according to a United Nations report released Thursday.
     
    Sea levels off some western Pacific islands rose by four times the global average, with annual gains of 1.2 cms (0.5 inch) from 1993 to 2012, according to the U.N.’s Environment Program.
     
    Release of the study, "Emerging Issues for Small Island Developmeng States, was timed to mark the U.N.'s World Environment Day on June 5. It came during U.N. climate change talks taking place June 4-15 in this western German city. 

    Warming waters from the Indian Ocean to the Caribbean are damaging reefs by killing the tiny animals whose stony skeletons form them, the report said.
     
    A toll on atolls

    "These 52 nations, home to over 62 million people, emit less than 1 percent of global greenhouse gasses, yet they suffer disproportionately from the climate change that global emissions cause," said Achim Steiner, head of UNEP.
     
    "Some islands could become uninhabitable and others are faced with the potential loss of their entire territories," the study said.

    Loss of coral takes a costly economic toll, the report said. Coral reefs help protect coasts from storms, serve as nurseries for many types of fish and also attract tourists.

    In Grenada, fishermen are reporting fewer and smaller "catches in areas where there once was a thriving trade," said Roland Bhola, the country's environment minister, who is participating in the talks.
     
    "We have been able to associate that with the issues of climate change ... the destruction of our coral reefs and other ecosystems like mangroves,” he said.

    Threatened ecosystems
     

    A study last month estimated that each hectare (2.5 acres) of the world's coral reefs provided services worth $350,000 a year.
     
    "Corals .. are probably the most threatened ecosystems on the planet," Robert Costanza, of the Australian National University and lead author of the study, told Reuters.
     
    Some people on small islands are considering moving inland because rising sea levels are causing erosion and bringing more salt onto farmland, said Jacqueline McGlade, chief scientist of UNEP.
     
    "But many of them don't have places to retreat towards," she said.

    Greenhouse gases blamed
     
    The U.N. panel of climate scientists in March said it is at least 95 percent probable that human emissions of greenhouse gases are the main cause of a rise in average world temperatures.
     
    "Addressing climate change ... is absolutely vital to the survival of small island states," Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, said at a news conference.
     
    The report said small islands could shift to abundant solar and wind power to help cut fuel import bills, which are often between 5 and 20 percent of gross domestic product.
     
    “We are doing what we can,” said Marshall Islands Environment Minister Tony de Brum, citing plans to invest in solar energy. His nation also has the world's largest shark sanctuary as part of efforts to protect nature, he added.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Mayuyu from: Nagasaki AKB
    June 07, 2014 7:12 PM
    Sea leve rise 1.2cms for about 10 years, and it means 12cms for 100 years. Go away from the sea side right now ! Big 12cms TSUNAMI is coming for 100 years!

    This article means that kind of things.

    But, , , Do you know sea level is up and down around 100cms in one day because of tide rising?

    by: Stanley from: PIttsburgh, PA
    June 07, 2014 4:07 PM
    Amazing. They must be pretty sure taking CO2 out of the atmosphere will fix it. Or the change is coming. IE the cool off cycle has already begun. Take a gander at ocean temperatures provide by the "unbiased" EPA data. Amazed me they actually posted it.

    by: Joe from: Paris, France
    June 06, 2014 6:08 PM
    It's called "tectonic plate shifting." The UN deliberately ignores the second most powerful force on Earth after gravity because well, they cannot tax the Earth.

    Most of these islands are actually sinking due to shifting plates (subduction), the plate basically folds under and is melted back into the Earth; rather than the sea level rising due to global warming. Just look on a plate map.

    by: floyd howard jr from: Foley Al. USA
    June 06, 2014 10:04 AM
    Dems are trying to legislate a narrative change hurting the American people in the process! All Democrats and supporters here and abroad, are trying to flood the media with hysterical climate change & global warming alarms to take the heat off Dem candidates in the November 2014 and 2016 elections due to the train wreck of Obamacare! They shout, scream, cry, make outlandish claims and won't stop till after the elections! Poor Democrats! The tsunami cometh!

    by: GuyBB from: KCMO
    June 06, 2014 8:30 AM
    Climate change is indeed a problem for small islands. Simply because the climate is always changing. However, the change to the name of AGW to climate change, is an incideous, and pernicious assault on truth. None of the coral reefs in existence today where alive 12,000 years ago, simply because during the Ice Age, they were hundreds of feet above sea level.

    What they really mean when they say "climate change" is not the known fact, that climate is always changing, but rather the implication that it is in fact climate changed by man. Worse? These idiots have no schedule for their fearmongering, because every time they have given a timetable, they've been WRONG!

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.